A tax increment district that helped develop businesses along Connors Point and create more than 250 jobs will now create incentives for affordable housing in Superior.
The Superior City Council approved a plan to use tax increment to set aside about $350,000 for affordable housing as the city formally closes Tax Increment District No. 8.
The district was created in the 1990s to help develop businesses like Field Logic, Genesis and Exodus in the Connors Point Industrial Park. Tax increment financing allows developers to use their own tax dollars to finance projects within the district.
The council approved extending the life of the district for one year to use incremental revenue to create incentives to develop housing that costs 30% or less of a household’s gross monthly income. About 80% of the funds derived from the extension will be used for affordable housing with the remaining balance to be used to improve the city’s existing housing stock, according to the resolution adopted by the council on Tuesday, Aug. 18.
“What this is effectively doing is closing TID district No. 8,” Mayor Jim Paine said.
However, state law allows the city to capture the final year of increment revenue for affordable housing before the taxes generated in the district are returned to other taxing authorities, Paine said.
Councilor Brent Fennessey questioned whether other authorities — Douglas County, the School District of Superior and Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College — would have to review the city’s plan like they do when a tax increment district is created.
“We did advise the Joint Review Board of this,” said Jason Serck, economic development, port and planning director. “They are aware and there was no objection.”
Starting in 2022, all the taxing authorities benefit from taxes generated by development on Connors Point.
Serck said there isn’t a specific plan to build affordable housing on the table currently, but the money could be used to provide incentives for a project anywhere in the city.
The money would be put into a fund and spending it would require a development agreement and go through the normal approval processes any incentivized development goes through, Paine said.
City officials expect to meet with developers to come up with a plan for safe, affordable and accessible housing within the year.
The closure of TID No. 8 is the first time the city has closed a tax increment district in at least 20 years. It’s one of six districts in the city.
Serck said he anticipates the city closing two others in the next few years, including TID No. 7 in the North End industrial park, and TID No. 9 in the Winter Street Industrial Park.
“I am assuming that if this is successful, we would continue doing this,” Fennessey said.
“I wouldn’t see why we wouldn’t … housing solves everyone’s problems anyway,” Paine said.